This role (which I still work on weekly and love) was my initial push into the freelance world. Since then I’ve worked with a few more clients, while maintaining my original freelance role and of course my full time job.
Yes, all my freelancing occurs outside the 9–5 daily grind. Juggling both has been an eye-opener for me, a constant learning experience. So here are my 6 key takeaways from 6 months of freelancing while working.
You need to have plans, strategies and know what you’re doing. On any given weekday you might only have 1 hour to tackle work, so you can’t be wondering what you will do with it.
Where possible write out your key tasks for the week right at the start, that way you know exactly what you need to do and are always ready to jump on the next task with minimal fuss.
You also need the right tools, I’m currently using:
Every week will be different. Some nights there are post-work commitments that mean I can’t do any work that day. Some weekends I’ll spend entire days out. No two days tend to be the same.
It’s taken me a long time to settle into the freelance rhythm. If you’ve only worked the 9–5 life before, it’s daunting lacking structure. As soon as you let go of your assumptions & embrace work when you can however, suddenly it becomes less intimidating.
As with anything in life — just starting is key. You don’t have the benefit of spending time thinking too hard when there are limitations on your time, it’s much more important to just get stuff done.
You know what ends up being really good for saving money — taking a second job. Working more means turning down opportunities. Sometimes it’s simply turning down the opportunity to relax. Sometimes it’s turning down going out for a dinner or party.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Finding what you sacrifice and even how you sacrifice is part of the journey to in a freelance role. Embrace the difficulty rather than shying away from it and you will end up a lot happier.
In complete contrast to the above, you DO need to make sure to schedule time for life outside work. Time to relax, go out, exercise, are all very important to ensure you recharge your brain.
Most importantly of all (and something it took me 5 months to work out), is sleep. I often was guilty of being awake until 12am, then up again at 6:45am the next day to do it all again. This works well for a few months, but once you’ve experienced the concentration, energy & overall health benefits of 8 hours sleep a night, there is no going back.
Finding time for life can be hard. I personally like to schedule it in, so I can commit to myself that it’s important.
No one can work in a bubble, just because you’re freelancing solo doesn’t mean your work exists in isolation.
It’s important to find time to connect with the people you’re working with, get feedback on tasks, processes, work. This not only gives you valuable social input and time, but lets you create better work in the long run too.
Vitally it also ensures you have connections with people. Whether these are other freelancers, people at a coffee shop or colleagues, being able to talk about ideas, gain new insights and learn is important to ensure your work doesn’t stagnate.
You never know where a new contact might pay off, so it’s important to be friendly, be known and be remembered (for the right reasons hopefully!).
In a 9–5 job you might be lucky enough to have a career path laid out. You know where you current working is taking you, the steps involved and maybe even the time-frames.
Freelance work doesn’t have this structure. Instead it’s up to YOU to decide where to go next. Want a new client? That means you have to put in the work to find them. Want to promote yourself? You need to go out and write a blog post, promote something new.
In a lot of ways, freelancing is about setting up your own direction and destiny. Marketing is a field which varies greatly, there are an abundance of roles, job titles, activities to take on. What you choose to make of it, and who you choose to work with, is really up to you.
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Christopher Phillips is a freelance marketing strategist, content creator & Pokémon Master, based in Melbourne, Australia.
For the past five years he has been working with companies across Australia & New Zealand to bring their marketing to life.
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